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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Ethics

A Study Of Polytheism And Idolatry In The Quran

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This is an amazing book. I HIGHLY suggest everyone to read it and those who tries to use quranic verses to relate Shias with shirk to read this specifically. What ever argument you have, regarding any verse that you think is against tawassul for example, see how the author refutes your claim. You must read the whole book to get a clear picture of how polytheism and idolatry is portrayed. Taking one verse out of context wont work. We must understand the history of the meccans and idolatry as well. None the less, it is a really good read overall.

 

http://www.al-islam.org/study-polytheism-and-idolatry-quran-abbas-sayyid-karimi

 

(wasalam)

Edited by PureEthics

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It reads like one long apologetic for certain Shia practices, and is full of logical errors. Additionally, certain presuppositions are made that are never proven. The main one being that what Shias do is correct, and therefore that can't be what the Quran is talking about.

I could go through the whole book pointing out logical fallacies, but since at this moment in time I believe most people are pretty set in their ways on this issue (one way or the other), I don't think it would be time well spent. All I would say to the discerning reader is think carefully about the arguments made, and see if proof is always provided, or are things simply stated. Are certain conclusions logical necessities, or were there other plausible options?

Edited by Haydar Husayn

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It reads like one long apologetic for certain Shia practices, and is full of logical errors. Additionally, certain presuppositions are made that are never proven. The main one being that what Shias do is correct, and therefore that can't be what the Quran is talking about.

I could go through the whole book pointing out logical fallacies, but since at this moment in time I believe most people are pretty set in their ways on this issue (one way or the other), I don't think it would be time well spent. All I would say to the discerning reader is think carefully about the arguments made, and see if proof is always provided, or are things simply stated. Are certain conclusions logical necessities, or were there other plausible options?

 

Can you please give one example?

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Can you please give one example?

Sure. Well, one obvious objection is why assume that the polytheists had one uniform set of beliefs? It seems perfectly possible, and in fact historical evidence would suggest probable, that they had different sets of beliefs, and the Qur'an addresses them. Rather than trying to prove that they viewed idols in a 'latitudinal' system with respect to Allah, versus a 'longitudinal, why not consider that both were polytheistic beliefs? This by the way would also free al-mizan of the contradiction that he alleges. At the very least, this is something that needs to be proven, rather than asserted.

In terms of presupposing that the beliefs he is indirectly trying to defend are correct (which is obviously circular logic), here is an example:

When discussing the verse:

“If you ask, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth, and disposed the sun and the moon?’ The will surely say, ‘Allah.’ Then where do they stray? Allah expands the provision for whomever He wishes of His servants, and tightens it for him. Indeed Allah has knowledge of all things. And if you ask them, ‘Who sends down water from the sky, with which He revives the earth after its death?’ They will surely say, ‘Allah.’ Say, ‘All praise belongs to Allah.’ But most of them do not apply reason.” (third verse of chapter 1)

He says:

Of course, another belief is that Allah is the one who affects us independently and that idols are dependent on Allah in their being effective; that is to say, Allah has delegated or handed over this power to idols.

This is similar to the belief which we hold with respect to the prophets (‘a) and the Imāms (‘a); we believe that Jesus Christ (‘a) had powers to resurrect the dead, but with the permission of Allah. If we assume that they are dependent on Allah, going after idols is the same as pursuing Allah, in the same way that going after prophets (‘a) and the Imāms (‘a) and asking them [to provide] one’s needs is the same as asking one’s needs from Allah. This belief has no obstacle from the perspective of affirmative existence, but it is in need of proof. Do polytheists believe that idols are independent of Allah, or maintain that they are dependent on Allah?

It can easily be inferred from the verse quoted above that polytheistic beliefs belong to the first kind; that is to say, they believe that idols can harm and benefit man and are independent of Allah and do not apply reason to their belief system.

Well, first of all, the belief he says is close to the Shia belief about the Prophets and Imams (as) sounds like tafwid, the belief that Allah created the Ahlulbayt (as), and then delegated creation to them. I don't really know what objection he could have to that belief based on his arguments in this book, but the Imams strongly condemned it, using some of these verses as proof against it. Maybe he thinks they were doing taqiyya?

But putting that aside, I don't see how it can be 'easily' inferred from the above verse that certain polytheists didn't have such a belief, unless you assume that they couldn't from the start. The verse fits very well with such a belief, and rather than stating that it is 'obvious', he should have proven it through logical reasoning.

Edited by Haydar Husayn

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Sure. Well, one obvious objection is why assume that the polytheists had one uniform set of beliefs? It seems perfectly possible, and in fact historical evidence would suggest probable, that they had different sets of beliefs, and the Qur'an addresses them. Rather than trying to prove that they viewed idols in a 'latitudinal' system with respect to Allah, versus a 'longitudinal, why not consider that both were polytheistic beliefs?

 

 

If you actually read the book rather than skimming it you would understand, that the author uses quranic verses to address the set of beliefs in general, of which are being portrayed in the quran.This idea of latitudinal and longitudinal is presented through arguments set forth of which the author tackles. In fact he does consider both to be polytheistic. There can only be two aspects logically, dependency on God, and independent of God, Of which he explains:

 

"The first kind is that idolaters believed that the One God ruled over the whole cosmos and there was no other god save the One God, and idols were only intermediaries of grace and holy creatures through whom Allah delivered His graces to other creatures."

 

"The second kind is that idolaters believed that idols were latitudinal to Allah and were equal to Him, and that their dominion and power was independent of Allah. They conceived that idols had the power to harm and reward, and they possessed lordship and governorship over the cosmos, equal to the power and governorship of Allah. In other words, Allah was one of the many gods; for instance, the first god was Allah, the second one was Hubal, the third one was Lāt, the fourth one was ‘Uzzā, etc."

 

Then he confirms:

 

"Of course, it is clear that a true monotheist would never hold such beliefs. A true monotheist believes that Allah is essentially One; none is the creator and governor of the world save Allah, who is infinite and rules over the whole cosmos."

 

 

At the very least, this is something that needs to be proven, rather than asserted.

 

His whole book is on proving exactly that.

 

 

In terms of presupposing that the beliefs he is indirectly trying to defend are correct (which is obviously circular logic), here is an example:

 

I honestly dont see the circular logic. He isnt trying to defend anything. He first explains what the verse is inferring about the idol worshipers:

 

"On the one hand, believe that the creator of the skies and the earth and all existence is Allah, and, on the other hand, hold that a creature besides Allah is a malefactor and benefactor; to believe that the existence of all things, even idols, depends on Allah and, on the other hand, to conceive idols as being independently effective. No reasonable man can hold these conflicting beliefs."

 

Then he goes on to tackle a different perspective of which happens to be similar to our beliefs. It doesnt change the fact that this perspective is a possibility. So he establishes that okay, suppose this position is true, if so, there must be prove that their powers came from God, to make their dependency valid.

 

"This belief has no obstacle from the perspective of affirmative existence, but it is in need of proof." Then going back to the basis of this whole argument the main verse at hand, it is established [according to the verse]:

 

"It can easily be inferred from the verse quoted above that polytheistic beliefs belong to the first kind; that is to say, they believe that idols can harm and benefit man and are independent of Allah and do not apply reason to their belief system."

 

Understand that this is just one conclusion regarding one verse, of which he tackles many verses, of which can have many assumptions, of what the polytheists believed based on the holy quran.

 

 

Well, first of all, the belief he says is close to the Shia belief about the Prophets and Imams (as) sounds like tafwid, the belief that Allah created the Ahlulbayt (as), and then delegated creation to them. I don't really know what objection he could have to that belief based on his arguments in this book, but the Imams strongly condemned it, using some of these verses as proof against it. Maybe he thinks they were doing taqiyya?

 

It may be close but it isnt what he is talking about so this comment is pointless. I dont want to change the subject, but in fact there is proof for this position through hadith.

 

 

But putting that aside, I don't see how it can be 'easily' inferred from the above verse that certain polytheists didn't have such a belief, unless you assume that they couldn't from the start. The verse fits very well with such a belief, and rather than stating that it is 'obvious', he should have proven it through logical reasoning.

 

How can it not? By the verse they believed in Allah to be the creator, however, they were WORSHIPING idols. This is a clear contradiction, it proved that they held the idols independent from God. He does prove it through logical reasoning. Love above that which you quoted.

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If you actually read the book rather than skimming it you would understand, that the author uses quranic verses to address the set of beliefs in general, of which are being portrayed in the quran.This idea of latitudinal and longitudinal is presented through arguments set forth of which the author tackles. In fact he does consider both to be polytheistic. There can only be two aspects logically, dependency on God, and independent of God, Of which he explains:

 

"The first kind is that idolaters believed that the One God ruled over the whole cosmos and there was no other god save the One God, and idols were only intermediaries of grace and holy creatures through whom Allah delivered His graces to other creatures."

 

"The second kind is that idolaters believed that idols were latitudinal to Allah and were equal to Him, and that their dominion and power was independent of Allah. They conceived that idols had the power to harm and reward, and they possessed lordship and governorship over the cosmos, equal to the power and governorship of Allah. In other words, Allah was one of the many gods; for instance, the first god was Allah, the second one was Hubal, the third one was Lāt, the fourth one was ‘Uzzā, etc."

 

Then he confirms:

 

"Of course, it is clear that a true monotheist would never hold such beliefs. A true monotheist believes that Allah is essentially One; none is the creator and governor of the world save Allah, who is infinite and rules over the whole cosmos."

Sigh... I don't know why I bother. I'm just going to respond to this, because I can't be bothered with a drawn out debate that I can't win since in the end you can always play the 'my scholar allows it, and he knows more than you' card.

I never denied that he considers both sets of beliefs. The point is he assumes that all the polytheists had the same beliefs. So they either all had this 'longitudinal' belief, or 'latitudinal'. He doesn't seem to consider the possibility that some polytheists had one belief, and others had the other belief. If he does, I'd be grateful if you could point me to the section where he discusses this possibility.

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Sigh... I don't know why I bother. I'm just going to respond to this, because I can't be bothered with a drawn out debate that I can't win since in the end you can always play the 'my scholar allows it, and he knows more than you' card.

I never denied that he considers both sets of beliefs. The point is he assumes that all the polytheists had the same beliefs. So they either all had this 'longitudinal' belief, or 'latitudinal'. He doesn't seem to consider the possibility that some polytheists had one belief, and others had the other belief. If he does, I'd be grateful if you could point me to the section where he discusses this possibility.

 

lol brother by what I have provided you above shows he considered both possibilities, in that he dissects each view point regarding verses that each side may present to prove a side. Whether or not idol worshipers had both set of beliefs, is irrelevant. What is relevant is what is portrayed by the quran, for that is where all arguments stem from. Again, of which he refutes these beliefs and shows the overall view point of the holy quran. Reading the chapter titles and intros will show you everything. If he didnt think of it as a possibility why address it?

 

Ill just give you one example:

 

The whole first chapter shows arguments regarding idol worshipers taking their idols as independent from God.

 

Where as there are specific sections addressing the longitudinal (dependency) arguments like:

 

Reasons for asserting that idolaters used to believe that idols were longitudinal with Allah and dependent on Him and critiquing those reasons

Edited by PureEthics

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